The Wine Guy


    As we continue to see all the new products and services emerging from the Internet of Things, you should know that some of those products and capabilities are contributing to the production of Red Blends that are more and more impressive. While winemaking will, hopefully, always be an art, technological innovations in the process are allowing for better and better blends to be “produced” before they’re even mixed. Programs can now tell makers how long to age for maximum flavor and structure, how much barrel and/or stainless age time to use and how long it should be in the bottle before offering, to name just a few of the aspects that are now, “by the numbers”.

    All these innovations mean that, in a lot of cases, higher quality is costing less; one more reason to embrace technology!

    22 Pirates 2018 Red Blend, Clos La Chance, California, ($22.95),is a great example. Clos La Chance is a winery that started very small. Co-owners Bill and Brenda Murphy decided to plant a few rows of Chardonnay in their Saratoga backyard, both for landscaping purposes and to realize their dreams of being small-scale vintners. Before long their grapes and wine were in huge demand and as they say, the rest is history. Their 22 Pirates Red Blend was created to employ the outstanding Rhone Varietals being produced by premier wine growers throughout California and it really delivers. The wine has a dark black, violet color with aromas and flavors of ripe blackberry, vanilla bean, white chocolate and fresh mint with a round, vibrant, fruity medium body and a tingling, compelling, medium-long cinnamon-sugar finish with well-integrated, medium tannins and light oak. A lip-smacking Rhone varietal blend from Monterey; you may need more than one bottle!

    Francis Ford Coppola hasn’t made any big moves lately, but never mind. He’s still making big things; they just come in liquid form! His Director’s Cut 2016 Cinema Red Blend, Sonoma, (27.99), is a delicious example-Cinema is a limited-production proprietary blend from Coppola. It’s comprised of fruit from select sub-appellations of Sonoma including Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley and  Knights Valley. The outstanding 2013 vintage offered ample high-quality fruit. It’s a spicy, full-bodied red, layered with dark berry fruit components and an edge of earthiness.

    Hornos Special Reserve Red 2014 Vina San Pedro,($36.99), is a worthy entry from Chile, a country which continues to offer more and more value and quality every year. Wine Spectator scored this 92 points saying “Powerful yet taut, with plenty of savory notes to the dried cherry and berry flavors, lingering with bittersweet chocolate details. Roasted hints fill the elegant finish, which offers plenty of spice. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Malbec. Drink now through 2020.” and  Wine Enthusiast Magazine also scored this 92 saying “Concentrated aromas of tarry berry fruits, herbs, eucalyptus, olive and briar patch are as Chilean as Pablo Neruda. This Cabernet-led blend is chewy, full and nicely textured. Spicy, mildly herbal flavors of blackberry, plum and cassis finish spicy, with integrated but noticeable oak. Drink this powerful wine through 2023.” They’re absolutely on the mark.

    Locations E Red Blend, Dave Phinney, Spain, ($17.99).I saved the best for last. Dave Phinney of Orin Swift fame has branched out beyond California to produce a line of international wines that show off his expertise blending different varietals as well as his uncanny ability to make wines that taste twice as good as the cost. The E5 is sourced from Spain, from multi-vintages and it exhibits remarkable complexity and drinkability. This one’s a blend of Grenache, Tempranillo, Monastrell and Carignan and it is unequivocally mouth-watering and delicious, with a core of ripe black fruit and supple tannins. The price is beautiful, too.

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